Discovering : South America

Brazil: Discovering Praia de Carneiros, the Pernambuco wildcard

Discovering Praia de Carneiros, all stars align.

Discovering Praia de Carneiros was on the itinerary today.  We only heard great things about it.  We considered accepting a day trip from Porto de Galinhas to Carneiros for R50.  However, the Jangada owner knew we headed to Maragogi so she recommended we visit Carneiros along the way.  Thus, the plan was to leave early that morning and spend the day discovering Carneiros beach and then reach our ultimate destination, Maragogi.

‘side note’ Praia de Carneiros in English means Sheep beach.  So it's not only Porto de Galinhas that sounds better pronounced in Portuguese.

Praia de Carneiros was highly recommended.  The Jangada owner thought so and on a more credible level, TripAdvisor recently named Carneiros the 12th nicest beach in the world and the 2nd nicest in South America!  Looks like we were in for a treat…  Keep in mind, these ratings can change over time.

‘side note’ It appears there are two entrances to the Carneiros beach, in our case, we entered at Bora Bora.

Smooth ride to Carneiros.

The signs for the beach led to a dirt road.  We arrived at a gate, where they were asking us R30 to pay for parking.  In addition to the parking, the salespeople at the entrance were selling the daytrips for R50 per person.  The daytrip consisted of a stop at the Sao Benedito chapel followed by a clay bath then a stop at the natural pools.  We couldn’t help but wonder, why we hadn’t taken the daytrip from Porto de Galinhas at the same price.  We passed on the first opportunity and decided to go with the flow.

‘side note’ In hindsight, 30 Reais (or roughly $10 CAD) wasn't expensive. We were happy the grounds were properly guarded because we left some valuables in the car.

Discovering Praia de Carneiros - park entranceWe made our way from the main entrance to the beach.  The infrastructure was extremely well conceived.  Everyone had access to clean washrooms, rest areas (with comfortable chairs and hammocks) and a small park for children.  It looked like a little oasis.  Just before the beach entrance we found a perfectly located restaurant overlooking the sea.  We found more salespeople and politely declined.  We asked about the itinerary and the locals said the first stop was at the Igreja de São Benedito.  He said the tour would soon be leaving with a boatload for the chapel.  We wanted to avoid crowds and understood that we could walk to the church.  It was just 1km along the shoreline.  So that’s what we did.

‘side note’ We learned that we shouldn’t always accept the first offer we receive.

What about Mel  ?

Discovering Praia de Carneiros - Arlan and MelAt first sight, the Carneiros beach didn’t look like much.  The shore was very narrow, it seemed deserted and it was cloudy.  Seen from this angle, we wondered what all the fuss was about.  We stopped to take pictures a couple of times along the beach but kept a steady pace to arrive before the tour.  For reasons unknown, I was fixated on taking picture of this mustard yellow boat named Mel decorated with a picture of a bee.  Once at the São Discovering Praia de Carneiros - sky clearingBenedito chapel we took a couple more pictures from the outside.  It didn’t look like we could enter, so we just admired the architecture and scenery.  People started to arrive by foot and boat, so we waited our turn to take a picture in front of the church.  At this point, the sky was clearing up a little leaving us hopeful for the remainder of the day.

‘side note’ The São Benedito chapel was built in the 18th century.

Everything happens for a reason!

Discovering Praia de Carneiros - Sao Benedito chapelLia bumped into a threesome, a couple and their friend Carlindo.  Turns out Carlindo played host for his friends and took them for a private tour.  Lia offered to take pictures of them in front of the chapel.  One thing led to another and we were invited aboard their boat for R20 per person.  The price was great and they seemed sympathetic, so we accepted the offer.  Everyone, including the boat operator, were super friendly!  Ready to leave with our new ride, we followed our new friends to the boat.  To my surprise, it was the exact boat I took pictures of, Mel with the bee on the side.  How could this be, I thought to myself?  Perhaps it’s the laws or power of attraction?  Something made us feel like we were on the right track.

‘side note’ We wonder if we found the boat or if it found us.

Our next stop, the clay bath.

The clay bath was a short boat ride away.  We reached an island approximately 5-10 minutes from the chapel.  Set up along the shore were various kiosks, waiting for the tourists.  It was still quiet since we were ahead of the major tours.

Upon arrival, we were immediately introduced to a girl in her twenties named Levinha.  She seemed shy or reserved at first, but she warmed up to us once she saw that we were a Discovering Praia de Carneiros - Levinha and clayplayful group.  She demonstrated how to cover ourselves with the clay.  It wasn’t long until everyone was grabbing a handful of this light grey clay from a 10L pail half filled with water.  We were all covered from head to toe and then it started to dry and crack, on our faces arms and back.  After 10 minutes, we could wash away the clay in the sea.  The treatment soothed the sunburns (which some of us had) and made our skin silky smooth.  Apparently, this was the goal.  Levinha continued her pitch and offered to sell us some soaps and products.  We gladly supported her and purchased souvenirs.

‘side note’ 1. Some of us were skeptical to remove our shirts not wanting to expose our sunburns.  Apparently clay would act as sunscreen for the time being.  The Jangada hostel owner Viviane, told us her skin stayed smooth for almost one year after her visit. 2. The clay activity is completely free.  At the end you decide if you would like to purchase merchandise.

We made our way back to the boat and headed to the next location, going along with the flow, not really aware of the itinerary.  Anyway, it was out of our control and for R20 we were easy to please.

Natural wonders.

The next stop was in the middle of the ocean where the tide had receded and left huge flat beach.  Arlan our boat conductor parked Mel along this beach, just beside other boats.  Oddly enough, the boat just next to us seemed to be a merchant, nothing that would shock us at this point.  They were preparing ‘caranguejo’ and ‘siri’ which is what we call crabs in Canada.  Let’s recap for a moment.  We are on a fictitious beach, fully decked out with patio chairs and sun umbrellas, bar service and bbq ?  And all of this existed because of the full moon cycle.  How mind boggling is this, haha.

Discovering Praia de Carneiros - Wandering the fictitious beachWe all took some time to roam the beach.  We explored the mesmerizing patterns in the sand and the horizon that seemed to go on for miles!  This is the definition to feel disconnected from the world.  I recall this being the first moment where I began to feel disengaged.  We all headed back to the boat, fully content with our adventures and new found friends.  But there was another stop on the agenda, the natural pools.

Arlan parked the boat alongside this huge rock, which in fact was coral.  We walked on the coral and made our way by foot to the edge, approximately 100meters away.  This was yetDiscovering Praia de Carneiros - natural pools another remote area that existed because of the low tide.  We noticed small pools of water with colorful fish and sea urchins.   Arlan would later pick one up as we took pictures and took turns holding them in our hands.  The coral and natural pools weren’t as big as Porto de Galinhas but the fact it was remote gave it a sense of excitement.   We easily made our way to the pool, where we could explore and swim.  Arlan joined us and showed us other sea creatures.

‘side note’ Sea Urchins also called sea hedgehogs.

For those who don’t know they are Discovering Destinations in Praia de Carneiros - Ouriçosmall, round shaped with many spines, which is their defense and travel method.  These numerous needles move at such a slow pace that it’s difficult to notice with your eye.  Contrary to what we believed, you can pick them up and hold them which leaves your hands tingling.  It seems like, they are dangerous if you step on them, where the spines can penetrate your skin leaving red marks and swelling.  Luckily none of us had any issues of the sort.

Discovering Destinations at Praia de CarneirosThis was our last stop, but we weren’t sad.  On the contrary, we were leaving on such a natural high.  What are the chances we decide to wing it, only to bump into great people and make great discoveries?  This just left me wondering, what if we took the daytrip from Porto de Galinhas or even at the main Carneiros entrance.  We would have missed out on this wonderful adventure and friendly acquaintances.  Sure it was great to spend less than the full price for the activities.  In the end, we didn't focus about the money saved, but the new connections we made.

This was a true travelling experience.  Leaving everything to fate, knowing there is always an adventure waiting for you.  It reaffirms that it's best to keep your eyes and your mind open.

Please feel free to visit our Flickr account to view more pictures from Discovering Praia de Carneiros.

Go with the flow and just enjoy the moments!

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